Wednesday, March 04, 2009

Tomorrow on Bilerico: "Keep Your Enemies Closer"

This week, I thought I’d use the Bilerico column to see if something can be learned from the 158 comments that have been left to date on my Youtube video of the gay protest at the Mormon Temple in New York City in November of 2008.

I made a condensed list of the anti-gay comments.

Some of them are from Mormons. Others are angry, threatened and deluded God-fearers. Some are from those who feel that this LGBT protest showed the world that we who would dare to attack a church are not nice people. Some highlight what they feel are the horrifying things they assume we do in the course of having sex. Others warn us of the fires of hell. Some want us to be happy with what we have. Others outright deny that the Mormon Church spent money to influence the Prop8 vote. Some honestly believe that marriage is exclusively for a man and a woman.

If I were locked in a room with these commenters for five minutes, and could make five points, I’d have to make good use of my time to say a few words that might help change their minds. Although it might be futile, here is what I’d say.

Go to Bilerico after noon on Thursday to read it.

Update: It's up. Get on it.


ewe said...

all of them are ignorant and think that they are better than you and me. So to hell with em.

Birdie said...

That was Luke 16:31 you used so appropriately to close.

It is clear that fear drives their ignorance. I don't believe they think they're better so much as more obedient, in a convoluted way. The "slippery slope" they fear isn't really looser morals, it is their grasp on certainty. If somehow they allow that they might be wrong on this issue, what else in their faith is based on falsehood? That is a cliff rather than a slope for those whose fear requires the comfort of certainty, so they retain their iron grip and shut the door on discourse.

Those of us in churches have the responsibility to help their congregations find comfort in ambiguity, to know that asking questions and not knowing all the answers is okay. The search for truth is an honorable pursuit, regardless of where your faith lies (if at all). When we acknowledge the mystery that may not have complete answers, we can more easily accept and even celebrate our differences.

The turmoil so present in those comments might fade in the presence of grace—yes, even for those who would disagree. How can we rightfully bid for acceptance if we don't offer it too? Your remarks, Tony, exemplify the graciousness we need to put out this fire. It is not easy. But it is necessary.

Tater said...

Your response to all the hate I read in those comments was classy and right on the mark. I expected no less from you. :)

Father Tony of the Farmboyz said...

Would they ever understand what you say about the "grip on certainty" that is at the root of their fearful behavior? You speak their dialect and may have more success than many of us. Thanks for the quote ID.

Birdie said...

Those whose fear is greatest may never understand because first they must be willing to hear. We can cast eloquent and earnest persuasion before them, but it will be for naught: pearls before swine. However, there is a continuum of fear on which many rest because they don’t know any better. It is they whom we can reach.

Anger is a secondary emotion that is a response to hurt or fear. The primary emotions must be dealt with to remove anger. Fear (of self? the unknown? anarchy? God?) is probably the more common reaction of people who reject the needs of the gay community.

While earnest discussion will open the hearts of many, some will never be swayed. And they are an important part of this struggle, because they are the ones we must embrace in spite of our differences. If we ever hope to have them welcome us, we must model the behavior we hope to see. I cannot stress this enough. The discussion I hope to be having in my church—shortly!— is not so much about what the Bible says but “What does grace look like to you?” That is a question we can really wrangle over, regardless of our views of Biblical interpretation.

Father Tony of the Farmboyz said...

Dear Birdie,
I am convinced that if you do not have some measure of success, then it is not possible at all. Even if you reach one person, you might through generations mold future folks through the mind change in that one listener.